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Multimedia Gallery - Visualization

Superspreading Surfactants


Surfactants in fabric softeners, paint, ink and other products lower surface tension, allowing easy spreading across a surface. Using simulations on SDSC supercomputers, grad student Jon Halverson and professors Joel Koplik and Alexander Couzis of City College of New York are investigating how "superspreading" surfactants work, in research supported by the NSF and NASA. The image shows an aqueous solution of trisiloxane surfactant on a graphite surface. At first the distribution is nearly random (left), then it organizes (right) into a bilayer with the water-loving parts of the surfactant facing outward (yellow) and the waterhating parts (green) packed away, promoting superspreading.
Image: J. Halverson and J. Koplik, CCNY.
Source: San Diego Supercomputer Center, UC San Diego

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